A federal appeals court has overturned a decision made by a judge in a U.S. District Court ruling that the case of an Oregon teenager shot by local police be thrown out. The civil litigation has been reintroduced into a district court in Portland where a jury will decide who was at fault.
The case in question stemmed from a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the teen’s family after he was shot and killed by members of the Washington County Sheriff’s Department. The family sought $7 million and named Washington County and the two officers involved in the shooting as defendants.
Officers shot the teen after being summoned to his house by the teen’s mother. The teen’s mother called police to report the fact her son was drunk and threatening to kill himself. When police arrived on the scene, he was wielding a knife outside the home and holding it to himself.
When he would not relinquish the weapon, one of the officers shot several rounds of beanbags, which are non-lethal ammunition. When it looked as if the teen was making his way back to the house — where his family was at the time — with the weapon, the two other officers discharged their weapons with traditional ammunition and killed him.
Many aspects of this case have been examined from whether the teen even heard the officers warn him to drop the knife or whether he posed enough of a threat to even merit the officers to shoot beanbags at him.
Some argue the boy was not making his way back into the house, rather, was reacting to the beanbags striking him.
This is all information that the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided should be left up to a jury to decipher. After a circuit court initially sided with the officers in the case, the court of appeals said a jury should hear it.
The Washington County Sheriff Department maintains that it acted in accordance with the law and safety regulations in shooting the teen.
Source: The Oregonian, “U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals says Portland judge wrongly dismissed Lukus Glenn family lawsuit against Washington County,” Dana Tims, Nov. 4, 2011